• The Lees of Virginia
  • The Lees of Virginia
  • The Lees of Virginia
  • The Lees of Virginia

The Lee Family Digital Archive is the largest online source for primary source materials concerning the Lee family of Virginia. It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online. We are always looking for new letters, diaries, and books to add to our website. Do you have a rare item that you would like to donate or share with us? If so, please contact our editor, Colin Woodward, at  (804) 493-1940, about how you can contribute to this historic project.



Lexington, Va., 23 May 1867.

Genl. Dabney H. Maury

Southern Hospital Association

188 Gravier Street, New Orleans La.

My Dear General:

I was very glad to learn from your letter of last month the prosperous condition of the Southern Hospital Association, and the relief that has been already afforded to disabled and needy men. I trust that as our political troubles are reconciled, and business becomes reestablished and extended in the South, that the suffering of all may be relieved. I feel assured that under the present management of the association all will be done that can be done, and that those who are devoting their time and energies to this praiseworthy work, will receive from posterity, as well as the present generation, the thanks which are due. As regards the course which Virginia may take under the recent laws of Congress, to which you refer, it is difficult to see what may be eventually the best. I think, though, it is plain, in the execution of the laws, that a convention will be called and a State Constitution formed. The question then is shall the members of the convention be selected from the best available men in the State, or from the worst, and shall the machinery of the State Government be arranged and set in motion by the former or the latter. In this view of the case I think it is the duty of all citizens not disfranchised to qualify themselves to vote, attend the polls and select the best men in their power. Judge Underwood, Messrs Botts, Hunnicutt &c, would be well pleased, I presume, if the business were left to them and the negroes. But I do not think that this course would be either for the interest of the State or Country. When the Convention assembles, it will be for them to determine what under the circumstances of the case it will be best for the people to do, and their decision should be submitted to by all as the decision of the State. I look upon the Southern people as acting under compulsion, not of their free choice, and that it is their duty to consult the best interests of their State as far as it may be in their power to do.

I hope that all our friends in New Orleans may do well, and that each may succeed in the business which he has undertaken. Every man must now look closely to his own affairs and depend upon his good sense and judgment to push them onward. We have but little to do with general politics. We can not control them; but by united efforts, harmony, prudence and wisdom, we may shape and regulate our domestic policy.

Please present my kindest regards to Genls. Beauregard, Longstreet, Hood, Bucker &c. and all friends.

Wishing you every happiness,

I am very truly yours.

(sgd) R. E. Lee



Source: Photocopy of letterbook copy, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51 c 738, pp.47-48, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond

Transcribed by Katie Hall, 2018 June 13

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